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"For The World Is Hollow and I Have Touched The Sky" is a rather typical 3rd season Star Trek episodes. The story generally can take place on a soundstage and is mostly character driven. The first point is simply a function of lower budgets of Trek’s last year and is one of the main complaints for Season 3. Therefore the lower budgets relied more on the the story to carry the load and "For the World is Hollow" does try to put some of the elements together for an interesting mission. There is the impending peril of the asteroid ship Yonada smashing into a densely inhabited planet, McCoy’s terminal illness, and of course, a computer for Kirk to disable.
Insert plot device here
The plot is rather generic with a couple of twists. McCoy’s sudden diagnosis with ‘Xenopolycythemia’ is totally out of left-field and is never properly explained. Before you can think too hard about how a Chief Medical Officer can suddenly find himself terminally ill we find a nice distraction of an asteroid-that-is-really-a-ship. Naturally the people inside don’t know that they are in a generational ship. I have to give credit to the writers for using a generational ship; warp speed often acts as a way to skip past the issues associated with the vast distances of outer space.
So the real twist isn’t McCoy’s rather contrived illness, but the fact that the leader of the asteroid people named Natira takes a liking to McCoy and wishes to marry him. Since Kirk usually gets the space babe of the week, this is a nice change of pace. I do find his interest in Natira a bit forced. While Natira seems quite nice, what we have seen of McCoy is generally a more down to earth fella’ who likes to flirt with the cute yeoman in "Shore Leave" and doesn’t usually do well with formal functions, which being the co-leader of an entire society would certainly entail. Perhaps more importantly McCoy isn’t one for imposing ignorance, joining the Fabrini would mean giving up his knowledge of the true nature of Yonada. So we just know this can’t work out…and of course it doesn’t.
McCoy not wishing to be blown out of the sky, since it seems like Yonada’s course won’t be fixed, has found out where the manual for the ship is located and proceeds to tell Kirk, thus enraging the third major element of our story: a computer that rules over a society. This is Kirk’s specialty: he loves to disable any computer that keeps a society in the dark (Prime Directive? What Prime Directeve?). Alas, he doesn’t get to use his trademark "logic loop overload" that apparently works on all advanced computers of the future – I guess preemptive multitasking operating systems don’t exist in the future? Kirk and Spock find the key to getting into the computer room just in the nick of time to fix the automated course, and lo and behold the Fabrini have a cure for McCoy’s illness just hanging out in a memory bank! …and all is right with the world.
The little things…
Rewatching the episode there are actually a number of little elements to the production that make the episode worth a second look. I am starting to agree with many of our community members that assert the 3rd season has a lot going for it. The 3rd season might be light on budget but they knew what they were doing with what they had and the staff had started to branch out with some more imaginative camera angles. I have always liked the shot of the landing party being escorted down into the tunnels of the city, this is a shot that is actually rather typical of late 1960′s film, when I see it I am always reminded of the second to last Planet of the Apes film where they find a ruined human city. I have a fairly clear picture of this same tight stair well shot being used. It seems like a good way to introduce a subteranian city and also provide a mild sense of paranoia as the shot doesn’t follow any one character nor is it a tradtionally framed shot of action or actors.
Marching down the steps
The second nuance was during the scene with the old man whose diatribe is the source of the episode’s title. As he enters our hero’s sleeping chambers a music cue from the Cage is heard. The old man is played by Jon Lormer who also played the illusory encampment leader ‘Theodore Haskins’ from The Cage.
He seems familiar…
The last element of interest is that the writers left an opening for a sequel, this is one of (if not the only) instances of this. Kirk says that "The Fabrini descendants are scheduled to debark on their promised planet in approximately 390 days, I think that we could manage to be in that vicinity at that time." If Star Trek had made it through the full 5-year mission we would have been treated to a reuniting of Natira and McCoy somewhere in the late 4th or early 5th season. However it was not forgotten, the recent novel ‘Ex Machina’ by Christopher Bennet picks up the story of the Yonadans (although it is set after ST:TMP).
Their truth – of their world
The CGI from CBS Digital is generally very good in the recent episodes, the newer Enterprise model helps immensely. As I mentioned earlier, I have started to see the value in 3rd season production. The 3rd season is easily the best for the Enterprise bluescreen shots. Space shots made for the 3rd season (as opposed to one of the many reused shots) look quite good. If you take a look at our comparison shots for the episode here, take a look at the shot labeled ‘Course Change’ I feel the original actually looks better. Part of that is due to the details of the Enterprise. I would say the biggest shortcoming of CBS Digital is their inconsistent attention to detail. The original shot has lights under the shuttlebay that aren’t there in CBS-D’s version and the lights that are there above the shuttlebay aren’t lit up.
What CBS does quite well are the new angles of the Enterprise as it travels ahead of Yonada. The new angles are a nice change and make the space footage a bit more interesting then just stock Sci-Fi filler between the filmed sequences. Yonada is also a bit more realistic, it doesn’t have groovy rainbow rocks making up the surface. Sadly this does render it blander, but a bit closer to reality.
All in all an average episode to begin with and an average effort on the part of CBS Digital…now bring on "Journey to Babel" and "Doomsday Machine".